London: amazing pasta at Sorella

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Some restaurants just has that little bit extra, that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that makes you like a place straight away. It’s a bit like clicking with someone on a first date; you can’t really pinpoint what you like about the person, but there’s something.

That’s the feeling I (and I think my dinner companion too) got when we walked into Sorella in Clapham. Something about the ambience felt nice, the staff was friendly and the food amazing.

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The menu consists of snacks and sharing plates as well as a few main courses, that are also perfect for sharing. To start off with we ordered some bread (much needed when you’re verging on hangry) and a starter to share.

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The restaurant made ricotta with the softest pea purée and a flavoursome oil was a delicious start. Smooth, soft and subtle but still with lots of flavour.

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Then we moved on to what we came here for; the pastas. The tagliatelle with a slow-cooked ragu was heavenly.

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But it was soon overshadowed by the dreamy linguine with morels cheese and heaps of truffle. IMG_6469.jpg

I still of dream of this dish, that’s how magnificently delicious it was. I hope this stays on the menu forever.

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After the pasta we had a little breather before getting started on the main course.

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We had perfectly cooked cod with Swiss chard and a lovely jus.

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And on the side the crispiest potatoes I’ve ever come across. Wonderful!

But what really stayed me were the pasta dishes. It’s hand to heart some of the best I’ve had.

Race you back?!

Sorella, 148 Clapham Manor St, London SW4 6BX

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Seville: modern tapas with exotic elements

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Some days in Seville were lovely and warm with 23C and sunshine. Those days were spent relaxing by the pool, enjoying the sun on my skin and a good book. So in the evening I would get ready for a stroll around town and a nice dinner.

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One such evening I made my way to El Pintón and was extremely lucky to snag a table outside without a reservation. After I got that table they turned away so many people. So make sure to book in advance.

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This place is different to the usual tapas bars around town. They do serve tapas at El Pintón but always at a table, so there is no busy bar area to hang out in. Instead it’s a civilised affair with only table service.

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A concept I was perfectly happy with. Just like I was happy to watch the world go by while sipping an excellent glass of cava.

But I had food too, of course. First a lovely egg dish with truffle. A combination I love. Add to that some crunch and a smooth potato créme. Mmm…

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Next up was the calamari sandwich with lemon aioli. Simple but lovely! And the squid was the most tender I’ve ever had.

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My last dish here (I wish I could have had more, but the portions were rather generous as you can see) was a recommendation from my friendly waiter; presa Ibérica tataki with sweet potato purée and pistachio sauce. The meat was exquisite and so so tender and the sweet but mellow flavours worked so well with the pork.

This; dining on excellent food al fresco, is partly what holidays are about for me. Pure joy!

El Pintón, Calle Francos 42, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

Wonderful dinner at Rolfs Kök, Stockholm

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My bank holiday weekend in Stockholm was fabulous in every way but the best restaurant experience was at Rolfs Kök, on a Sunday night. My parents and I had such a lovely meal here, we can’t wait to go back!

Finding a restaurant open on a Sunday night is almost impossible in Stockholm, but it was nice to see that there is a market for it – Rolfs Kök was full the whole time we were there.

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We started our evening with champagne (very un-Swedish of us on a Sunday night!) and the lovely bread and butter.

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Not long after the lovely starters were put on the table. Dad’s snails with lardo, sage and garlic were absolutely wonderful. Especially the lardo added another dimension to the melted butter.

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Mum chose the cured pike-perch with apple, avocado, horseradish and hazelnuts. It was also absolutely delicious and tasted so so fresh, like spring on a plate!

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I couldn’t resist the oysters a’la Rolfs Kök; baked with mayonnaise and pata negra and served with house made tabasco on the side. They were incredible!!

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For our main courses dad chose the fish stew with prawns, mussels, cream and aoili and loved every spoonful of it. It tasted of fennel but also had a kick to it – delish!

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Mum and I went for meat. The ox cheeks braised in red wine served with truffled potato purée was also amazing! But it would have been nice if it was served with some vegetables. The potato purée with truffle was the best I’ve ever had (and it’s something I order in London fairly often).

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My Iberico pork chop with nettles, leek and rosé pepper was pure heaven. Every dish we had were great but this one was my absolute favourite! The meat was just perfect, still pink inside, tender and juicy with lots of flavour.

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The portions were big so we were really full after our two courses (and extra bread) but somehow dad was still in mood for pudding and had the crème brulée. It was very good but mum and I were happy with a small spoonful each, and an espresso.

Our dinner here was just amazing! The food was perfect and just to our taste, but I must say that the service was impeccable too. In a friendly, relaxed yet efficient way. The ambiance here is very relaxed and fun, and it feels like everyone is welcome, from families to couples, young and old.

A nice detail is the wine pairings to every dish on the menu. We used that guide for the wines for the main courses and they were a perfect match. I also like that when ordering a glass of wine it gets poured at the table.

Such a great place. I will definitely be back.

Rolfs Kök,  Tegnérgatan 41, 111 61 Stockholm, Sweden

Trattoria Caminetto d’Oro, Bologna

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Our first day in Bologna (Good Friday) we walked all over town to explore, but despite the many restaurants here we really struggled to find a nice place for lunch in the area where we were. After a while we settled for Pizzeria Trattoria O Sole Mio, where we had an OK lunch. I had a pizza with plump porcini mushroomsch and Caroline had gramignone pasta with salsiccia and copious amount of cream. Nothing to write home about but just what we needed.

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Our dinner that day was a little more exciting, as we had booked a table at Trattoria Caminetto d’Oro. The menu looked really good so we decided to share two starters to get to taste as much as possible. But first we had the amuse bouche above; a fish mousse with fennel I believe.

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One of the starters was this potato filled ravioli with pecorino and black truffle. It was absolutely delicious and just the type of Italian food I had been dreaming about before our trip.

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The second starter was the daily smoked fish: seabass, with finely chopped vegetables, orange peel, rosemary and thyme. Absolutely delicious! I must remember to pair orange with fish, it works so very well!

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I never tire of truffle so I chose the poached egg with parmesan, white truffle, purple potato purée, croutons and a whole artichoke for my mains. Everything was delicious but it was a dish that you ate in sections because of the artichoke, but still lovely.

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Caroline tried the ‘traditional boiled meats’, which was similar to a pot au feu, tender meats in a deliciously flavoured broth. Very filling though as some of the meat was sausages.

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It came with two sharp sauces, to cut through the richness of the meat; one with herbs and one with chilli, both really nice.

We really enjoyed the food, but the service could have been better. The sommelier was not helpful at all, and actually quite rude. The saving grace was the restaurant manager/owner who really did a great job, but he should hire better staff!

Worth a visit.

Caminetto d’Oro, Via de’ Falegnami 4, Bologna, Italy 

Wonderful lunch in Rome (Armando al Pantheon)

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Book! That’s my best tips for visiting Rome. Book everything you possibly can beforehand; taxi from the airport, tickets to all the sights and tables at sought after restaurants.

During my lunch at Armando al Pantheon, which is a small and cosy restaurant, I saw the maitre d’ send away at least ten people that hadn’t booked as not a single table was available for walk-ins. So I was extra pleased I had made a reservation (you can do it online so no hassle at all) because this was a restaurant I certainly didn’t want to miss.

I took the old adage When in Rome seriously and had antipasti, primi and secondi. And wine. Oh, what a lunch!

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I started with bruschetta; one with lardo and walnut (nice!) and one with quail’s egg and truffle (wow!).

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I then had the spaghetti alla carbonara (a typical roman pasta just like cacio de pepe), and Armando’s version was lovely. Not too creamy but with plenty of flavour and nice pieces of pancetta this was exactly what I thought proper Italian pasta was about. Only downside was the size of the portion – if I had finished it I wouldn’t have been able to eat anything else, so I ate about half and saved myself for the next dish.

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It was one of the specials that I thought I might try if I could finish the pasta, but when the waiter told the table next to me about the specials I just could not not order the slow cooked veal with truffle. Although really full after the pasta, I almost felt less full after having had just meat, jus and truffle. The meat was very tender and the jus nice and light but with nice flavours.

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Armando’s is, as you can see, small and cosy. So cosy I made friends with the people at the next table (we sat very close) who loved the place so much they’d come back six times during their two weeks in Rome. Armando al Pantheon, Salita dè Crescenzi, 31, 00186 Roma, Italy

Truffled mushroom crostini

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Twice in December I made these truffled mushroom crostinis for my friends. Above with chantarelles and chestnut mushrooms and below with only chestnut mushrooms as I was feeding lots of people and fresh chantarelles aren’t exactly cheap. What’s great about the recipe is that it can feed anyone. It’s vegan and works for people sensitive to dairy, and if you make glutenfree crostinis this works for coeliacs as well.

When using the chantarelle mushrooms I added a bit of cream for added creaminess, so feel free to do that if you like, but plenty of oil (or use butter) is enough moisture for me.

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Truffled mushroom crostini (vegan), makes quite a few

1 large baguette

mild olive oil

400 g mixed mushrooms

oil for frying

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 tbsp porcini mushroom and truffle paste (I used this one)

salt, black pepper

chopped parsley for serving

Slice the baguette, place the slices on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 180C oven until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Leave to cool. 

Slice the mushrooms. Fry until golden in oil on medium heat (preferably in batches). Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so. Add the truffle paste, salt and pepper. Divide between the crostini and topped with chopped parsley. 

Chocolate truffle cake

Before flying off to meet my fellow food bloggers I baked the monthly cakes for the office. And among them was this dense super chocolatey cake. It is flourless and baked in a bain marie which makes it light and dense in texture at the same time. It is a must for all chocoholics and best enjoyed with some lightly whipped cream.

I found the recipe on a Swedish food blog where the blogger writes in English, so do check it out; Anne’s food.

Chocolate Truffle Cake
From the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum via Anne’s Food.

450 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
225 g unsalted butter
6 large eggs 
40-50 g sugar
butter for the baking tray

Grease and line a round baking tin, around 22 cm in diameter. Wrap the tray with double layers of tin foil as it will be standing in a bain marie.

Preheat the oven to 220°C, and bring 2 litres of water to the boil.

Melt the chocolate and the butter together and stir to blend. Crack the eggs into a bowl that will fit onto a small saucepan, and add the sugar. Pour water into the small saucepan, and place on medium heat and top with the bowl. Beat the eggs with an electric whisk while heating until they are slightly warm to the touch. Remove from heat and beat very vigorously for at least five minutes – the egg mixture should become very pale and fluffy.

Mix the eggs and the chocolate mixture carefully, until you see no more streaks. Pour into the baking tin. Place the tin in a large baking tray and pour the hot water into the sheet so it reaches about half way up the sides of the cake tin. 

Bake for five minutes. Cover the tin with tin foil and bake for ten more minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 45 minutes. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least three hours or overnight, until the cake is very firm. 

Take it out of the fridge, and loosen the cake from the pan with the back of a knife. Remove the sides of the tin and invert the cake onto a plate, and gently remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper. Invert back onto the plate you want to serve it on.